The average annual physical includes things like evaluation for common problems such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure, kidney function, and the like. Women also may undergo yearly gynecological exams in conjunction with a yearly physical, and if they’re over forty, they probably will routinely have a mammogram each year. As women age, doctors may also require things like bone density tests. A few tests change as we go from childhood to young adulthood, and then change again as we reach certain ages. These annual exams may take about half hour to an hour, and a little time more if we need blood work tests or scans of any body areas.
A fairly recent trend in the world of medicine is to offer people what is called an executive physical examination. The executive physical examination is a much more intensive evaluation of a person’s potential for disease. It may include full body scans, blood testing for numerous conditions that are rare, and extensive time spent with a doctor going over medical history, and discussing any issues that the patient might otherwise not mention in a standard physical; even minor symptoms may be viewed as relevant and deserve scrutiny. Though time on these exams vary, they can last anywhere from four to eight hours to up to two days, and you’ll pay a hefty price for them.
While a few things in an executive physical examination might be covered by your insurance, expect that the cost of most tests, to the tune of many thousands of dollars will come out of pocket. This is why the term “executive” is applied to this type of physical. It’s top notch, luxury medicine affordable by only a few rather than by most. But some who undergo the procedure advocate strongly for its use. Not only does it give you plenty of time with a doctor, but through scans and blood work, you may be screened for over 200 diseases that aren’t normally looked for on a standard physical.
Some doctors are concerned that the executive physical examination may not always be the best idea, just as there is now some question about the value of full body scans. Some tests for rare diseases or conditions aren’t completely reliable, which means you may be diagnosed with having a condition you actually don’t have, or a test can fail to provide accurate diagnostic measures. If you do test positive for any rare condition, you will probably undergo further testing.
Others say that the executive physical examination is incredibly comprehensive and provides patients with a great opportunity to have illness diagnosed just as it starts. Early diagnosis of a condition can mean that people are more likely to get early treatment, which can result in cures or management of conditions that may be too late to treat or reverse by the time they manifest symptoms.
There are now numerous clinics, usually attached to major hospitals, that offer an executive physical examination to patients. Such clinics like the Mayo Clinic, which was one of the early competitors in this field, stand by the potential health benefits available to patients who undergo these physicals. You can find clinics that offer these services by checking online, but you might want to speak with your general physical first about the potential value versus cost of these extensive exams.